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James Haffenden

James Haffenden, one of 134 convicts transported on the Hercules, 24 December 1824

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: James Haffenden
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1799
Occupation: Ag lab
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 56 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: House breaking
Convicted at: Sussex Assizes
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Hercules
Departure date: 24th December, 1824
Arrival date: 7th May, 1825
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 134 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Page Number 243 (123)
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Nick Freeman on 17th February, 2015 wrote:

The Haffenden clan was a well established family in the parish of Heathfield in Sussex by the C18th having lived and farmed in the district for many generations. John Haffenden and his wife Sarah had a small farm in Heathfield where they raised their four children, three daughters and the youngest, a son, named James born on the 6th September 1799. He was christened at All Saints, Heathfield two days later on the 8th September. Young James worked as an agricultural labourer in the district and later records indicate he had ploughing and shearing skills.
In 1824, along with James Selsby, Matthew Bourne, and James Chitter, he was arrested and charged with housebreaking. At his trial at the Suffix Assizes in the town of Lewes on the 14 August 1824 he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation. James spent the next three weeks in the county jail at Lewes and the day after his 25th birthday, he was transferred down to Portsmouth where he was incarcerated on the prison hulk, ‘Horsham’ where he remained for the next three months awaiting transportation. James Haffenden was transported on the convict ship ‘Hercules’ departing Woolwich on 24 December 1824. After being detained by unfavorable winds in the English Channel for a number of weeks, the ‘Hercules’ finally departed Portsmouth for Sydney Cove on 9 January 1825. They were at the Cape of Good Hope by the 17 March and departed there on 29 March. While there, the alarm was raised when Private John Green accidentally shot himself through the wrist. On the sound of the gun discharging the Guard and Seamen all under arms and believing convicts were escaping rushed to the deck to contain them to find only the injured soldier on deck and the convicts all safely locked in their prison.
The ship arrived in Port Jackson on Saturday 7th May 1825. A muster was held on board on the 9th May. The passage to Australia had been relatively uneventful for the 134 convicts aboard. The surgeon accompanying the voyage commented on the good health of the convicts during the voyage and their healthy appearance on disembarking.
Michael Goodsir kept a Medical and Surgical Journal from 26th November 1824 to 10 May 1825. He reported that having had a quick passage and favourable weather – “ I have been fortunate in having very few sick. The few cases I have had are common to every climate. I lost only one man during the voyage, he had been for many years sick with asthma and a ruined constitution when he came on board. From the confinement of the prisoners and consequence want of exercise, purgative medicines were often require and my principal expenditure has been on them.”
The prisoners were landed on Wednesday morning 11 May 1825 and underwent an inspection by His Excellency the Governor. Their healthy appearance gave every indication of the kind treatment experienced during the voyage.

James Haffenden’s convict indent described him as follows –
Skin – Florid
Hair – Flaxen
Eyes – Grey
Height – 5’3 1/2”
Age 25
Health – Very well
The convicts were moved to the Parramatta holding prison and were then forwarded to the south-western district at Bringelly for distribution. James Haffenden was assigned to Mr John Wood of Chipping, a prominent landowner in the district of Bringelly. John Wood had received substantial land grants in the district after his arrival as a free settler in 1818.  There was large tracts of land in the Mulgoa area at Bringelly, 1650 acres in two parcels, the largest named Chipping. John Wood developed a large pastoral empire west of the Blue Mountains and by 1828 had 4,840 acres in the colony running large stocks of cattle and sheep.
There is an interesting remark in James Haffenden’s convict indent stating that he was ‘recaptured’ but I cant find as yet, any details of the circumstances surrounding a possible escape and it doesn’t seem he was punished for escaping. However, a little over 12 months after arriving in New South Wales, James was involved in a celebrated confrontation with bushrangers at the Bringelly property of John Wood in early April1827. John Wood was not at home at the time and his wife with her young children was managing the estate when the ‘Ward gang’ attacked. Numerous articles about the Ward gang had appeared in Sydney newspapers through 1826. William Ward, an escaped convict from a chain gang, had gathered a band of escaped convicts and had been terrorizing settler’s farms in the districts around Bringelly for over 12 months. Bushranging had become a major problem for the Colonial adminstration in the 1820s as the volume of convicts arriving in Sydney grew, the lax supervision of iron gangs making roads and clearing land meant escaped convicts roamed the bush on the edge of the settlement preying on travelers and isolated settlers. There had been a party of police that had shot Ward and taken him into custody along with some of his gang in September 1826 but he had managed to escape to continue his bushranging. After being accused of shooting a constable (which he was subsequently found not to have been guilty of), in January 1827 he had ridden into Sydney and surrendered himself to police but had managed to escape from Sydney gaol and had been involved in a string of highway robberies and robberies of settler’s homes in the early months of 1827. The government had posted a significant reward for his capture. His legendary reputation had grown with the stories of his daring escapes. He had been wounded in the head on a number of occasions and survived as well as escaping custody more than once. His most daring escapade involved breaking into the Female Factory (women’s prison) in Sydney where he helped a female companion escape over the wall and into the bush. Newspaper accounts of William Ward’s bushranging career can be read in James Haffenden’s media gallery on Ancestry.
The following government notice was published in the Australian newspaper in December 1826.
Government Notices
Colonial Secretary’s Office December 12 1826
WHEREAS A MAN NAMED WILLIAM WARD lately escaped from the Carter’s Barrack, stands charged with divers felonies – Notice is hereby given, that a reward of Twenty Pounds will be paid to any person or persons who will apprehend and cause the said Ward to be safely lodged in any of his Majesty’s Gaols.
William Ward is a native of Nottinghamshire, 24 years of age, five feet six inches high, with hasle eyes, brown hair, sallow complexion, by trade a weaver, and arrived by the ship ‘Dick’.
By command of his Excellency the Governor, ALEX MCLEAY.
While James Haffenden is not directly mentioned in the following accounts of the capture of William Ward, the incident is referred to in his application for a ticket of leave on the 17 May 1827where it states that James Haffenden “be allowed to remain in the district of Bringelly on the recommendation of the Penrith Bench 17 May 1827 who have represented that Haffenden was instrumental to the capture of Ward, the notorious bushranger, and his party.”
The first official news of the capture of the notorious bushranger William Ward appeared in a government notice in the Australian 6 April 1827
HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR has derived much Satisfaction from the reports he has received of the spirited and laudable conduct of the following assigned Servants of Mr. Wood of Chipping; viz
These men, after a severe Conflict with a Party of desperate Ruffians, one of whom, Thomas Napper, alias Wm. Richardson, was killed on the Spot, succeeded in securing Wm. Ward, who lately broke out of Sydney Gaol, and Thomas Power, a notorious Offender, both of whom are severely wounded.
(The government notice continue with further acknowledgements of the bravery of some other assigned convicts in cases of apprehending felons)
The GOVERNOR cannot announce these several Occurrences without congratulating the Public on the early Instances they afford of the beneficial Effects of Regulations granting Tickets of Leave, furnishing, as these instances do, the best Grounds to expect that the Advantages, which were anticipated in framing those Regulations, will eventually be realised. It must be satisfactory to the Settler to know, that a domestic Police has thus been instituted for the Protection of his own Establishment. The Governor has held out a Boon which every Prisoner is anxious to obtain for the Apprehension of those Individuals who plunder the Settler, and disturb the Tranquillity of the Country; and assigned Prisoners may be assured, they cannot more effectually recommend themselves to the Favor and Indulgence of the Government, than by a faithful Discharge of their Duty to their Master, and by protecting their Families and properties. The Prisoners, who have been apprehended, are Men of the most desperate Character. The contest in which Mr. Wood’s Servants were engaged, lasted an hour and a half; and two of these Men were unfortunately wounded. The Conduct of the whole of the assigned Servants on the Occasions alluded to, was the more praise worthy, as their Services were voluntary; and they acted without Direction or Assistance.
In applying to the Individuals in Question the Regulations contained in the Government Order, No. 1, of the present Year, for granting Tickets of Leave, the Governor is pleased in Consequence of their distinguished Conduct, to extend the Indulgence to which they would be entitled, under those Regulations, to the utmost Limit, and to direct that they shall immediately receive Tickets of Leave. The usual Notifications will be made as soon as the necessary Particulars have been obtained.
By His Excellency’s Command, ALEXANDER McLEAY
An interesting account of the capture of William Ward in the bush not far from Wood’s farm in Bringelly was reprinted in the Australian on the 7 April 1827. The editorial comment mocking the government claim that the assigned servants had acted so bravely motivated by the promise of a ticket-of-leave. The article goes on to suggest that the government promise of a ticket-of-leave was really a cynical attempt to avoid having to pay each of the assigned servants the twenty pound reward.
The Australian 7 April 1827
Since writing the above, the details of the conflict between the bushrangers and the above-named assigned servants, have been forwarded to us by an up-country correspondent. These details, we subjoin. They reflect great credit on the men whom the “Government Notice” so highly compliments, and demonstrate quite clearly, that it was neither the reward nor the ticket-of-leave system which stimulated them to their very extraordinary and honorable exertion – it was the noble purpose of affording protection to the POOR SETTLERS! We fully agree with our correspondent – these men ought to have a FREE PARDON for what they have done. Ticket-of-leave! Pshaw !!!
On Friday last, when Daniels, the Penrith constable, was returning from Lumpy Deans, with the newspapers and public letters, on the Western Road, between Mr. Bunker’s and Major Druitt’s, three men suddenly rushed out of a brush cover, and ordered Daniels to stop and drop a pistol he had in hand, or his brains would be blown out. One of them was Ward (who lately broke out of the Sydney gaol); he had his musket pointed close to Daniels; the other two (Power and Napper, runaways from the Prospect iron gang) had their faces concealed bv handkerchiefs tied over, holes left for the eyes only; one of the latter seized and took the pistol, robbed him of his jacket, handkerchief, ammunition, and hat. Napper wished to have shot him; but Ward would not agree, and gave him back one of his handkerchiefs, shoes, and letters. The robbers then proceeded to the neighbourhood of Mr. Wood’s, of Chipping, where they plundered a poor landholders house, named Foley. A man of Mr. Wood’s was passing at the time when Ward, who was sentinel at the door, ordered him into the house, where he was robbed of a good pair of shoes he had on. The robbers then proceeded to constable McMahon’s house, which is in sight of Foley’s, and robbed the constable of a musket and ammunition’ and what else suited them. In the meantime Mr. Wood’s man ran homeward, and called to Richardson, who was ploughing in a paddock, that three bushmen were robbing the poor settlers and begged of him to run to Mr. W.‘s house for arms and men, to assist in taking them. Mrs. W. gave Richardson a double barrelled gun, and all the powder and slugs in the house. Two other men, I think named Leary and Gould, accompanied, armed with pistols and a cutlass. After a short search, they fell in with the robbers, sitting by a water hole, in the bush. Ward desired them not to approach, at the hazard of their lives. Richardson and Leary replied, “that they were determined to take them, for plundering the poor settlers.” Upon which, Ward took aim at them, and his gun did not go off. Power fired, and Mr. Wood’s men returned the fire, and wounded the whole three in different parts of the body, with slugs. After both had retired, loaded, primed, and prepared their flints, they advanced close to each other. But Mr. Wood’s men, discovering the robbers had balls, considered it prudent to shelter themselves occasionally, behind trees, and so was directed were some of their shots, that the bark of two trees were carried away, close to their bodies. This description of war was kept up nearly an hour and a half; when both parties were more or less wounded – ammunition scarce - and their arms frequently missing fire. At this crisis they closed, and attacked, with the butt-end of their firelocks and pistols. Ward and Leary were both down, in close grasp, when Napper flew to Ward’s assistance, and, when aiming an uplifted deadly blow at Leary, a man of Mr. Panton’s, who just came to the assistance of Mr. Wood’s men, shot Napper dead, before his blow fell. Ward and Power then surrendered. The arms and plunder of three robberies they had committed, within a few hours, in the open day, were taken from them - The three robbers were fighting for their forfeited lives; but the four brave and meritorious servants of Mr. Wood and Mr. Panton, nobly risked their lives, for the protection of the poor settlers; and that too, without being led on or headed by any authority. Such men richly merit their freedom.

The following account appeared in The Sydney Monitor on the 16 Aug 1827
Now several prisoners, servants of John Wood of Chipping, in the District of Bringelly, Esq. lately adventured their lives in capturing some bush-rangers. In justice to the merits of the men, we ought to republish the account of their courage and discretion as published in our Journal some months ago. The deadly encounter these Convict-servants had with the bush rangers (desperate fellows; since hung for their numerous crimes) was really interesting. Suffice it to say, the men shewed the most heroic valour, as well as devotion to their helpless unprotected mistress, (since unhappily deceased) Mr. Wood being absent. It would have been easy for these men, being the brother Convicts of the bush-rangers, to have sided with the said out-laws, and plundered ‘their mistress of’ every valuable, after maltreating her personally. But the said Convict servants were still ENGLISHMEN. They felt, that now, in the absence of their master, was the time to shew that they were men. They therefore fought; and they conquered. Yet hath General Darling done nothing for these men - beyond the ‘reward ‘due to their ordinary merits! So far from having received a Free Pardon like the Convict in the Millbank Penitentiary, the Convicts in question had not lately received that miserable libel on freedom, a Ticket-of-Leave!
James Haffenden received his ticket of leave three weeks later on the 26 May 1827 and soon after was appointed constable for the police district of Cooke, an area just to the north of Bringelly and Campbelltown. At the time, the Colonial administration were basically insolvent and the wages of petty officials were not being fully paid and constables complained of receiving ‘notes’ as a balance of their wages that they were unable to cash. Local constables resigned in droves and were mostly replaced by ‘ticket-of-leave’ men. The local newpaper the Sydney Monitor on 19 July 1828 published the following government notice –
Government notice – Colonial Secretary’s Office
Cooke – James Haffenden, per ship Hercules, holding a ticket of leave to be constable in the room of John Butcher, resigned. By his excellency’s command Alexander McLeay.
James received his certificate of freedom on the 22 August 1831, seven years and eight days after he was convicted in Sussex. James’ life after 1831 has been difficult to trace. There is a reference to a James Haffenden appearing in court at Picton in 1860 charged with perjury and subsequently being sentenced to 9 months hard labour in the Parramatta Jail after pleading guilty. William Cottrell, a farmer from Mount Hunter (just south of Bringelly), appeared as a witness in his defence. I would love to find out more about this case but don’t really know how to access court records. There is also a reference in the New South Wales police gazette in 1869 to the resignation of a police constable James Haffenden. Our James would have been about 70 years old by this date but I cant yet confirm if this reference is about him (although it is likely!). It is puzzling that there are no birth, marriage or death records for our James Haffenden that I have been able to find in New South Wales at this stage. It is possible that he left New South Wales and headed to Victoria in the 1850s, where his sister Jane and her husband Robert Foord had emigrated to Melbourne in 1849. It is also possible that he returned to England. More investigation of his life after 1831 is needed.

Researcher - freeman.nick@bssc.edu.au

Convict Changes History

Nick Freeman on 17th February, 2015 made the following changes:

date of birth: 1799 (prev. 0000), gender: m, occupation, crime

This record was discovered and printed on ConvictRecords.com.au